Book Cover Analysis: Non-fiction

Title: Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America
Author: David K. Shipler
Jacket Design: Jason Booher
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Date: 2012
Format: hardback
Cover finish: gloss lamination
ISBN: 978-0-307-59486-0
Extent: 380 (including glossary and index)
Spine Width: 1.15 inches
Age Range: 16+

What is first noticeable about the cover design is the use of the American colours – white, blue and red. These are used to turn the jacket into the American flag in a simplistic design. I think that this is an important feature given the nature of the book.16709348_10154984850503050_691211136_o

What I like about the design is the red stripe that stretches from the front, over the spine and to the back to cover the faces of those on the front cover. This has an underlying message about Americans and their rights – issues that are ongoing regarding race, religion and class. Equality is a massive topic at the moment and this could perhaps be interpreted as a metaphor reflecting that – taking away identity to say that we all people and we are all made of the same thing.

The flaps for the inside include more information about the book. The front flap includes a blurb and the back flap has a photograph of the author and an autobiography underneath it. Since this is a non-fiction book, the amount of extra information that is given  on the flaps is useful and necessary. This is something seen with lots of non-fiction books – particularly those which are text-heavy.

I like the detail on the spine and how this overlaps onto the front and back covers. This gives a nice effect and adds to the blank white background.

This book was published in 2012 and it is interesting to see that, now, in 2017, these issues regarding Rights at Risk, are very still much important – especially in light of the new presidency.

Overall, I think this is a good design – simple, effective and straight to the point. The title and the author name are of the same size which I think enhances the likeliness of looking at his other publications if you are interested in this book


Disclaimer: These images my own. 


The paperback cover of this book looks likes this:


Disclaimer: This image is sourced from Amazon, here.

This design is almost identical except for the slightly different formatting and layout, such as the author name, for example. The overall concept and theme is kept similar and there is no American flag visible like on the hardback’s dust jacket. This cover also has a promotional quote on the top of the front page and mention of an award underneath his name – unlike the hardback.

There are also less people on the front cover than the hardback. I think this reflects the format. But still, I think this is the biggest focus point of the overall design and I can see why this was kept for the paperback.

Book covers from other David K. Shipler titles:


Book Design by:  Robert C. Olsson     Book Design by: Cassandra J. Pappas

Disclaimer: images sourced from Amazon. Here and Here.

These book designs follow a similar kind of theme – minimal-style font and colours. I like how equal attention is paid to both the text and the graphics. I think this is important regarding non-fiction and is not something you would typicall see in fiction. Often in fiction, sometimes the author name is made more prominent than the book title or vice versa. We may recognise the author name and want to read anything by them as we know we will probably enjoy, or, we buy based on the title and don’t pay particular attention to the author. Here, the author and title is more of equal importance – if you buy this book, you are likely to read other titles by the author and/or buy similar titles to this one.

Further reading: 

The Only Five Fonts You Will Ever NeedInDesign Skills


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